You Got a Freelance Writing Assignment! Now What?

Carol Tice

A writer got an assignment!By Amanda Page

You’ve spent hours crafting the perfect article pitch letter – and it landed you a freelance writing assignment! Congratulations.

Now you’ve got to deliver the goods. What do you do next?

Here are five basic steps to take your assignment through to successful completion:

Get specifics

You received a “yes” from the editor. That means they like what you’ve done so far, and they want more.

Don’t be afraid to ask for specifics. How many words does the editor want? What angle does the editor want you to take? Was there something specific in your pitch they want you to focus on? Anything in the pitch they want to know more about?

You’re a writer, not a mind reader. Your editor would rather answer questions before you get started then request a ton of rewrites after you turn your article in.

Be sure to verify the deadline, too. You’ll want to turn your work in on time.

Sign a contract

As soon as you see the “yes,” get a contract – that’s the surefire way to make sure you’ll get paid.

Ask about the terms, negotiate if you need to, and get it in writing.

Find out whether you’ll be paid on acceptance or on publication and if you need to submit an invoice.

Don’t forget to ask about the “kill fee.” That’s the amount you’d get paid if you do all the work, turn in the assignment, and they decide not to use it.

Remember, editors expect professional writers to ask about contract terms. You’re a pro. Ask.

Get to work

Once you know what the editor wants, you can get started. Find your sources. Complete the interviews. Do any additional research you might need, such as finding a recent study or statistic.

Then, write the piece.

Give yourself time to write it, review it, and rewrite it. Check your spelling and grammar. Send it in. Include your invoice so your editor can get the payment process started.

Rewrite as requested

If the editor asks for rewrites, be sure to clarify what they want. Once you know how to proceed, write your revisions and turn them in.

Keep marketing

While you wait to see your byline in print, you can send more pitch letters to new editors. You can also ask the editor you just wrote for whether or not she has any other stories you could write for her publication. Or just send her a new story idea.

It’s a good idea to always be marketing yourself and your writing. Congratulations, again – and good work!

What is the first thing you do when you get an assignment? Tell us in the comments below.

Amanda Page is a freelance writer and instructor in Columbus, Ohio. Learn more about her work at

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